January 18, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Wizards center Kevin Seraphin (13) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) during the second half at the Pepsi Center. The Wizards won 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

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The Wizards are coming off their most disappointing loss of the season against the Milwaukee Bucks, but they have a chance to reclaim their .500 record against the Denver Nuggets tonight. The game tips off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

With Ty Lawson likely out with a hamstring injury, our focus will immediately be shifted on the big man positions. Denver is arguably the deepest team in the NBA in terms of bigs, and the loss of JaVale McGee hasn’t made much of a difference in their recent play. Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson have picked up the slack in the rebounding department, with both averaging nearly 9 boards per game. Timofey Mozgov, Darrell Arthur, and Anthony Randolph have also provided some much needed size off the bench. The Nuggets are 4th in the NBA in rebounds per game, so Washington’s big men definitely have to come prepared to battle on the glass.

Nene will also probably sit out tonight, leaving much of the rebounding responsibility to Marcin Gortat and whoever Randy Wittman decides to start in place of Nene. In the past five games, Gortat has only had one double-digit rebounding game so he’ll need to step up in that aspect of the game. Faried and Co. are known for their energy and hustle, and Trevor Booker has to match it in order for the Wizards to compete tonight. If Gortat doesn’t crash the boards tonight, it could get ugly fairly quickly. With Nene and Martell Webster likely out, the Wizards will need all the possessions they could possibly get and grabbing rebounds is key.

Notes:

  • As I mentioned already, Ty Lawson will be out with a hamstring injury so we won’t be able to see him and John Wall go at it for the first time this season.
  • Unless something unexpected occurs, Nene and Martell Webster will also be out tonight.
  • The Nuggets have the sixth highest offensive efficiency in the league, per NBA.COM. Needless to say, Washington’s defense has to come prepared tonight.

Prediction:

The Wizards have been hit with the injury bug recently, and I don’t think they’ll have enough firepower to beat the surprisingly good Denver Nuggets tonight. John Wall could potentially put the team on his back en route to a victory tonight, but a lot of things have to go right for that to happen.

Denver has more size than the Wizards, and I that’s a major problem tonight especially if Nene doesn’t play. Marcin Gortat is a solid rebounder, but he can’t do all the dirty work by himself. Without Bradley Beal or Martell Webster, the Wizards don’t have much perimeter shooting outside of Trevor Ariza.  Otto Porter will likely play better than he did against the Bucks, but it won’t be enough to carry the load.

Washington loses by a small margin down the stretch.

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Tags: Jj Hickson John Wall Kenneth Faried Marcin Gortat Nba Game Preview Washington Wizards Wizards Nuggets

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